Fury at airport chief's 'change of heart'

By Matthew Bates Thursday 31 January 2013 Updated: 01/02 11:04

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Sir Peter Rigby has ambitious plans for land around Coventry Airport. 17.011.008.cov.jg3

THE mastermind behind a plan to create 10,000 jobs around Coventry Airport has been branded a hypocrite by campaigners.

Airport owner Sir Peter Rigby, who is spearheading the Coventry Gateway scheme, has been challenged over a letter he wrote to his local paper back in 2008.

In it, the millionaire claimed a huge development near Stratford-Upon-Avon where he lives would 'devastate' the historic town and urged planners to listen to a swathe of residents also against the plan.

His own Coventry Gateway scheme is opposed by hundreds of objectors who argue the technology hub would destroy 741 acres of greenbelt land, but Sir Peter is pressing ahead with it anyway.

Mike Wareham, from Campaign against Gateway, said residents near to the Baginton airport could see identical objections between the two schemes.

"The arguments Sir Peter lays out so passionately sit in stark contrast to the damaging get rich quick scheme he has cooked up to surround his Coventry Airport," he said.

"The plans on the table would swallow up habitats and green belt land and engulf local historic settlements.

"These would be served 24/7 by heavy traffic that would impact the already congested roads such as the A45 and A46 and bring noise, light and air pollution perilously close to the local villages."

In his letter, dated June 5, 2008, Sir Peter claimed roads around Stratford would not cope with the increase in traffic from a proposed eco-town in Long Marston, on land also near an airfield, and that the employment market could not sustain another workforce.

He concluded: "I am completely opposed to the scheme and hope the views of locals who have chosen to make their homes in Stratford and to support the local community, economy and environment will be listened to.

"It is my opinion that the overall majority are hugely against these proposals."

The development was later scrapped after widespread disapproval.

City councillors have formally supported the Coventry Gateway proposals, while Warwick District Council have are yet to agree their stance on the ambitious development.

Sir Peter was not available for comment before the Observer went to press.

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